When it comes to notification about vacating a property in New York City, it’s always good to be the one initiating the process.

In other words, as a tenant, you don’t want your landlord surprising you with a Notice To Vacate letter. It can be worse than a “Dear John” letter because in New York City, housing options are in a lot shorter supply than boyfriends or girlfriends. If that sounds anti-romantic, you haven’t tried to find a new apartment in 30 days. The crunch for housing makes it important to understand the Notice To Vacate process.

When a Tenant Issues a Notice to Vacate

If you, as the tenant, want to quit your month-to-month lease or notify your landlord that you will not be renewing your long-term lease, you must serve your landlord with a Notice To Vacate letter.

You do not need explain anything, or whip up some florid missive about why you are leaving. All you have to do is write a simple letter that expressly states your name, date, address and that you are giving your Notice To Vacate, and the exact date that you will take leave of the property.

It’s also wise to include a very direct message that your security deposit is “X” and that you expect it will be refunded upon your exit from the property. Include your forwarding address, sign it, send it.

In New York City, the exact terms for a Notice To Vacate process is 30 days. You must give 30 days notice, which is slightly different than one month’s notice. In other words, if your rent is due on Sept. 1, and you are moving out, you should send you Notice To Vacate letter on July 31, and state that you will leave the dwelling on Aug. 31.

When a Landlord Issues a Notice to Vacate

Now things are getting interesting, because as a tenant, this means you will have to act fast.

The worst-case scenario is that the landlord has issued a 3-day Notice To Vacate. This can come as a result of rent not being paid on time. It is a highly aggressive act, and one that most landlords won’t take, since it can be time-consuming and costly to drag this case into court to get you out in three days.

If you didn’t pay rent on time, and you get a 3-day Notice To Vacate, and you then pay up fast, this could still result in a 30-day Notice To Vacate. Once a landlord has an issue with any tenant not being timely with rent payments, it’s in their best interest to get you out and find a tenant that will comply with rental agreements on a payment schedule. The 3-day notice (otherwise known as “Demand for Rent”) must really be seen by a tenant as a desire by the landlord to begin eviction process. You do not want to get into that situation.

However, even when you have been a model tenant, your landlord has the same right to terminate your month-to-month agreement, or not re-sign a long-term lease. When a landlord wants the unit back, that’s when you will be served a Notice To Vacate. This Notice To Vacate can also result if a landlord cites lease agreements that you have (allegedly) violated.

Just as you have to give 30 days notice, the same terms apply to the landlord. They will issue you the same sort of succinct letter, stating the time and date of issuance and the date that you will be expected to vacate the property. Reality has struck. A landlord is not obligated to disclose the reasons for the Notice To Vacate. So if it happens, face it soberly because the market waits for no one in NYC.

If You Don’t Comply With the Notice to Vacate

Depending on why you are being asked to leave, and whether or not you think the causes are just, you may decide you have a case to stay. If you go this route, you are going to be caught in the New York eviction process. This is when a landlord files a petition in civil court. This petition will outline the reason for the eviction and will result in a court clerk issuing notice of the date, time and location of the hearing.